For ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury, 2021 has presented many challenges, both professionally and personally, but he’s incredibly proud of the way Canberrans have pulled together – even when we had to stay apart – and got vaccinated for the community.
Now his only hope is for a slightly less dramatic 2022, but he acknowledges that’s what we all said at the end of 2020.
Region Media sat down with Mr Rattenbury to get his thoughts on the year that was.
The moment that defined 2021: There’s only one date that really counts – the day Canberra got dragged into [COVID-19] with everyone else and went into lockdown [12 August, 2021]. It felt a bit like our luck had run out and the safe ‘Canberra bubble’ burst on that fateful Thursday. Being briefed on that day, it was difficult to know how the community would react to lockdown and just how it was all going to go.
One lesson I learnt: To be honest, I don’t think I’ve got to the point where I’ve actually had a chance to look back on the year and reflect on what I’ve learned yet. But I think a lesson learned by Australia – and particularly Australian politicians – is that the community wants to, and has the capacity to, hear hard messages and deal with complex problems when given information.
What we’ve seen is when we go out there and talk frankly and just turn up and answer the questions, people go along with it. I think there’s a lesson in there for other issues such as climate change.
Our chief health officers around the country have basically become celebrities.
Highlight of the year: It has to be the ACT’s vaccination take-up. Seeing all those milestones passed so quickly reinforced to me what’s great about the ‘Canberra bubble’.
It showed that we have a community that listens to advice and science and cares about each other. Many people have said to me they wouldn’t have got it [COVID-19 vaccination] but knew it was the right thing to do for others.
The hardest moment: Probably Thursday, 12 August [start of ACT lockdown]. But on a lighter note, I had to celebrate a milestone birthday in lockdown this year. While my friends, family and colleagues looked after me very well – with cakes delivered and Zoom calls – it was very weird having what should have been a big party year in lockdown instead.
In the grand scheme of things, probably not that bad. Next year will be a postponed party instead, I think.
Leadership lesson: Looking out for my team was really important – especially during the second lockdown which we all found much more difficult than the first.
It was a different environment and the emotional fatigue had really set in so it was harder to work out how to be there for each other.
Something I’m proud of: Canberra! It was really awesome this year and there’s a real sense of civic pride about the place, especially now we are the most vaccinated city in the world.
What I wish I did differently: That is a hard one and I don’t think I’ve really yet had the chance to decompress and have a think about that.
Maybe what I should’ve done is taken my holidays earlier in the year when it was actually possible instead of saying I’d hold off until the end of the year.
My New Year’s Eve resolution: Go see some places, do a bit of travelling and just focus on catching up with friends.
With lockdown and work, I’ve fallen out of the habit of organising social catch-ups and I feel I’ve neglected some friendships a bit. I’ll prioritise that in the new year.
What to expect in 2022: Let’s hope for a better year and one with less drama. Although we said that last year so we’ll see.